Govt open to proposals to further cleanse political funding: Jaitley

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Sunday that electoral bonds mechanism was a substantial improvement in transparency over the present system and the government is open to suggestions to further cleanse political funding.

Arun Jaitley

In a Facebook post, Jaitley said the conventional practice of funding the political system was to take donations as well as undertake expenditures in cash.

The sources are anonymous or pseudonymous. The quantum of money was never disclosed and the system ensures unclean money coming from unidentifiable sources.

“It is a wholly non-transparent system. Most political groups seem fairly satisfied with the present arrangement and would not mind this status-quo to continue. The effort, therefore, is to run down any alternative system which is devised to cleanse up the political funding mechanism,” Jaitley said.

The finance minister had last week announced the contours of the electoral bonds, which will be sold by country’s latest lender SBI and will have a tenure of just 15 days.

The bonds are being pitched as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties.

Jaitley wrote, “The conventional system of political funding is to rely on donations. These donations, big or small, come from a range of sources from political workers, sympathisers, small business people and even large industrialists. The conventional practice of funding the political system was to take donations in cash and undertake these expenditures in cash. The sources are anonymous or pseudonymous. The quantum of money was never disclosed. The present system ensures unclean money coming from unidentifiable sources. It is a wholly non-transparent system. Most political groups seem fairly satisfied with the present arrangement and would not mind this status-quo to continue. The effort, therefore, is to run down any alternative system which is devised to cleanse up the political funding mechanism.”

He said India, despite being the largest democracy in the world, has not been able to evolve a transparent political funding system in the last seven decades.

“The round the year functioning of the political parties involves a large expenditure… These expenditures run into hundreds of crores. Yet there has not been a transparent funding mechanism of the political system,” he said.

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